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Is CBD Is Knocking Out Insomniacs?

Philip Ghezelbash
CBD, cannabis, insomnia, sleep, sleep disorders, REM, pain, anxiety

Studies are still trying to sort out if it’s the CBD or the terpenes or even the THC, but cannabis is a sure thing for a good night’s sleep.

Sleep: we fight it with everything we have when we’re young and then desperately crave it as adults. Good thing adults have access to CBD for sleep.

We all know that we should be getting 8 hours of sleep per night. But that goal is harder for some than it is for others. Insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and excessive daytime fatigue are just some of the conditions driving people to look for a solution to their sleep troubles. While prescription pharmaceuticals are a common solution to sleep issues, these have their own side effects that can harm people. Because of that, more people are looking towards natural sleep remedies like cannabis.

Cannabis And Sleep

THC has long been referred to as a sleep aid, with studies showing that THC can induce drowsiness. One animal study revealed that the light/dark cycle modulates the THC-activated CB1 receptor, suggesting that THC and CB1 play a role in sleep. 

Cannabis may also act as a sleep aid because the endocannabinoid system induces oleamide production. Oleamide is a fatty acid that stops GABA receptor inhibition. It does so through gap junction-mediated cell-to-cell communication. GABA is a neurotransmitter that has been found to enhance the production of melatonin, an important hormone for maintaining circadian rhythms and inducing sleep.

CBD, cannabis, insomnia, sleep, sleep disorders, REM, pain, anxiety

CBD and Myrcene as Sleep Aids

Needless to say, global cannabis legalization is still a work in progress. However, CBD is legally available in many American states and countries. This is likely because CBD products often derive from hemp. With better access to CBD, consumer acceptance increases (perhaps due to a lack of psychoactive effects). As a result, interest in CBD and its therapeutic properties has skyrocketed. A Consumer Reports Survey revealed that 10 percent of respondents take CBD as a sleep aid. 

Myrcene is a terpene found in CBD-rich cannabis strains. Animal studies have clearly shown myrcene’s ability to induce sedative and motor relaxing effects. While human studies on myrcene are currently insufficient, the animal studies we do have show great promise for this terpene to act as a sleep aid. But since cannabis contains both myrcene and CBD, it’s tough to know which one is responsible for the sleep-inducing effects.

Reducing Anxiety Improves Sleep 

Studies have shown that CBD shows promise in treating rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorders and excessive daytime fatigue. There has been a recent surge in preclinical and clinical CBD studies. These have found high value in CBD for managing some neuropsychiatric disorders that negatively affect sleep, such as anxiety. We all can think of a time when we’ve been kept up at night, excessively worrying about something. So it comes as no surprise that anxiety might negatively affect our sleep. 

Anxiety and sleep disorders, especially insomnia, often show as comorbidities and have long been thought to have a causative relationship with one another. So by reducing anxiety levels, CBD may also help to improve sleep patterns. 

One study showed that CBD had a calming effect on the central nervous system, with decreased anxiety in nearly 80 percent of patients. Self-reported sleep scores also improved by 66 percent after patients took CBD. Another study found that CBD induces an antidepressant-like effect, which is comparable to commonly prescribed pharmacological antidepressants.

Further research has showed that CBD may relieve anxiety symptoms via activation of the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT1A) receptor. Activating the 5-HT1A receptor initiates production of serotonin, a nerve cell neurohormone that is thought to regulate anxiety, happiness, and mood. 

CBD, cannabis, insomnia, sleep, sleep disorders, REM, pain, anxiety

Reducing Pain to Improve Sleep

CBD may also play an indirect role in improving sleep quality by reducing pain. CBD may improve pain relief through the activation of the 5-HT1A receptor, which leads to a cellular cascade and inhibitory responses that reduce perceived pain. Furthermore, a recent animal study also showed that CBD might be able to reduce chronic inflammation that causes pain by targeting specific glycine receptors. According to these researchers, CBD increases the expression of ? GlyR, which “mediate glycinergic cannabinoid-induced suppression of chronic pain.” 

The National Sleep Foundation reports that those with chronic pain find themselves in “sleep debt.” In other words, they’re sleeping significantly less than their bodies require. So a reduction in chronic pain with CBD consumption may help to significantly improve sleep quality and quantity. This in turn helps mood, healing, and general health.

There are plenty of anecdotal reports of cannabis’s efficacy as a sleep aid. But, it can be difficult to determine whether it’s THC, myrcene, or CBD that is actually inducing sleep. However, early research exploring the effects of CBD as a sleep aid on its own has shown promise. 

Anxiety and pain go hand-in-hand with reduced sleep quality and quantity. Any reduction in these conditions would significantly increase sleep quality. Research shows that CBD may reduce anxiety and pain, thus improving sleep conditions and overall sleep levels. A good CBD extract has very few side effects so it could be worth testing for yourself. After all, what do you have to lose?

Philip Ghezelbash

Philip Ghezelbash is an ex-personal trainer with a science background who currently operates New Zealand's only health specialized writing studio. He is passionate about presenting complex science in an easy to digest manner and is a firm believer that cannabis has substantial potential to be used as a medicine for degenerative disease.

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